Nightmare stretch shows Spurs need to make another roster demotion

The San Antonio Spurs got blasted by the Oklahoma City Thunder last night, exposing a problem that needs correcting sooner rather than later.
Malaki Branham, Julian Champagnie, Devin Vassell, Doug McDermott, Chet Holmgren
Malaki Branham, Julian Champagnie, Devin Vassell, Doug McDermott, Chet Holmgren / Ronald Cortes/GettyImages

It is time to have a tough conversation. The San Antonio Spurs fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and despite the early fight from the team, the glaring issues that have plagued this team all season reared their ugly heads, turning an entertaining game into a search for moral victories. Aside from what's become routine excellence from Victor Wembanyama, it's like looking for a needle in a haystack so instead of phony positivity, a critical microscope will be taken to the roster.

About a week ago, the defense had been performing much better, but there has been a key change: the return of Zach Collins. The Spurs just extended his contract in October and the plan was to start him alongside Wembanyama, but it only took a month and a half to abandon that strategy, relegating the Gonzaga Bulldog to the bench. The move has benefitted San Antonio but it's becoming clear the extension may have simply been a misstep.

What should the Spurs do with Zach Collins

The Silver and Black are not in a position to move Collins at the trade deadline. Due to the timing of the deal, he cannot be traded until April 22nd. But the Charles Bassey injury reduced options for big men, making adjustments impossible with the current construction of the roster. Dominick Barlow should be the answer, as he played very well in Zach's absence but his two-way status makes that difficult.

General Manager Brian Wright will have to get creative here and ship more players out at the deadline than he receives to free up a spot on the main roster for Barlow. Of course, if you can just trade for an upgrade at the position, that is even more ideal, but rolling Collins out there for the rest of the season needs to be a last resort. He has already seen a minute decrease, playing less than 20 minutes in back-to-back games. Just take it a step further.

In the nine games Barlow received minutes, San Antonio gave up an average of 115.2 ppg but has seen that number explode to 131 ppg in four games since Collins has returned. He is also shooting only 30% from three, so his 12.5 ppg is simply not enough to justify minutes over Dominick. Coach Pop also has this versatile Georgia-born big man on his team who he's claimed a desire to find time for named Sandro Mamukelashvili. Now is the time. Don't talk about it, Pop, be about it.